Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:3-6)
My family and I just got back from the beach. Going to the shore can be very exciting and fun but the ocean must be given its proper respect. There were no lifeguards were on duty so we needed to keep an extra eye on the shoreline because of the natural pull of the ocean with the potential to carry our children away. As I watched the waves come in I thought, what happens when one or both of the parents are not communicating, busy, distracted or even fighting? The consequences for the children can be disastrous. We as varying and particular ministries who are founded in the gospel of Jesus Christ have a responsibility to be like good parents in healthy communication working together for the common good of those spiritual children we are called to shepherd in the Lord and those that have lost their way.
As the church, we are meant to be a net-work catching those that are lost or straying and upholding all who need support leading to a wholesome relationship with Jesus Christ. When the network is broken precious people start falling through the cracks. It seems that we now have a whole generation of people who have gone astray in our nation and many who are Christians who feel disconnected and we should consider how unity amongst God’s people can work to change the trend.
We as the Body of Christ have a responsibility to these lost children to faithfully represent a unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (vs 4:3). We are to show people that we are the family of God who share more in common than we do in difference and we are working together to represent Jesus. When visiting churches, Christians should not feel like they are moving between divorced parents who are vying for their affection. They should experience a love and connectedness amongst our local ministries where each has a particular assignment but sees themselves as part of the greater whole. Local churches should know that they are married to one another sealed “by one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (vs. 6). Like any married couple, we don’t always agree but even in our different understandings we love one another and can learn and grow from one another as well.
Just as parents need date nights, biblical church people, ministries and leaders from different traditions and practices should endeavor to get together to touch base regarding opportunities to work together or better understand the full picture that God is trying to bring about in their region. These practices done in mutual affection and love (not out of obligation) can produce meaningful and lasting results. A net can catch many more fish than a fishing rod and so the bond of peace amongst believers creates a network that can have a multiplying effect upon our work. It would be amazing to see how much more could be accomplished by working together to reach out to people and to make disciples! I believe these blessings will come about not because of our combined ingenuity for the most part but because God is pleased with His people loving one another and the Spirit would show up in a mighty way to guide and encourage all revealing Jesus to the world around us!
I hate even to mention tangible benefits to our ministries because the unity of the Spirit should not be looked at based on the results it can provide. Love, peace, and unity are virtues to be desired because they reflect who Jesus is and Jesus is our great and exceeding reward.
Biblical churches know that we are all connected and should be cheering one another on and helping one another where they can. We have a responsibility to be good parents working together, living one another, and watching out for the children so to keep them safe and gather them from the dangerous tides. Just like Peter was called to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles, Biblical local churches should view each other complementary ministries called to different assignments, peoples and areas. God will shift people and pieces around and this should not trouble us as long as the reasons are for the advancement of the gospel and the growth of the people. We are called to reflect Jesus and as much He has allowed diversity in His Body so should we. We can let go of things like fear, jealousy, and pride knowing that it is God’s approval we want and He wants us to glorify Jesus not ourselves. We can still hold to our particulars and love one another in a way that mends the network where we are and reflects Christ’s truth and love in a tangible way. Jesus is the One who has called us together my friends and because we share Him, we have more than we can ever imagine in Him and one another as well. Let’s not wait for us to lose our freedom or tragedy to strike before we begin to appreciate the relationships we have with one another and let’s work together to keep an eye on the shoreline for the sake of those we have been entrusted, and all of God’s precious children!